Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Shortlisted for TVs Extraordinary Taxi Ride Western Australia

I am beside myself because I have been shortlisted from 500 people to just 30 to go with Ellen on a TV travel show called The Extraordinary Taxi Ride Western Australia.

My first experience of Australia was watching 'Skippy' on black and white TV at my Granny Gammon's house. This was in the mid 1960s and was a considerable treat because Gran was about the only person I knew who had a TV. We certainly didn't have a TV or phone for that matter.

This has got me to thinking about how much has changed in the last 40 years. Even in my life time, I have seen incredible changes in the way we communicate and entertain ourselves. YouTube wasn't even a gleam in someone's eye back in the days of 'Skippy'. I wonder where we'll be in another 40 years.

Having said all this, what is interesting is I was one of only a few who put a video on YouTube. So whilst we have the technology, we cannot automatically assume everyone knows about it or can use it. I know that is old news, but it's a salutatory reminder for me when I am trying to teach people how to use online technology.

Program is coming together for the Virtual International Day of the Midwife 5th May 2010

The 24 Hour Virtual International Day of the Midwife is on May 5th 2010. The program is slowly coming together, but there's still time to get involved if you'd like to volunteer to organize or facilitate sessions.

There is no official theme as such so you're very welcome to present whatever topic you like, and use whatever online communication tool you feel comfortable with. At the moment there's a real mix of asynchronous and synchronous activities planned ranging from the publication of a poem to a live presentation about antenatal care.

Online technology and tools
If you'd like to run a live session...maybe present a paper, talk about your midwifery practice or run a discussion but you're not sure how to use the virtual classroom, just get in touch and we can support you to work out your technological issues.

Latest news
If you want to keep up to date with the latest news about the program and what we're planning, please feel free to check out our Facebook fan page (you do not need a Facebook account to do this) or follow us on Twitter.

If you have any queires or want to get in touch, either leave a comment here or drop me an email: sarahstewart07(at)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Evaluation report of the SLENZ project and virtual birthing unit

The report for the Second Life Education New Zealand project and the virtual birthing unit has just been released - you can download the pdf from the SLENZ (now VLENZ) blog.

The report focuses on the design and development of the birth unit and touches on the students' experiences of piloting it for the first time. It is very interesting reading if you are thinking about carrying out a similar project to develop educational resources in Second Life.

What this report will not tell you is how effective the virtual birth unit is as a teaching tool, particularly in relation to learning outcomes. This is a project that is waiting to be done...hopefully by myself in the next few months.

Please let me know if you'd like to know more about the virtual birth unit and normal birth scenario in Second Life.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Proof of the pudding

For several years I have been talking about how an ePortfolio is such a good tool for professional development especially for midwives. This is specially in light of the requirements that New Zealand midwives have a professional portfolio to present evidence of their fitness to practice.

Last week I was able to test that premise in a 'real' professional setting - I presented my ePortfolio at my Midwifery Standards Review and I have to say that I came away with mixed feelings about what happened.

Open minds
On the one hand the reviewers were open to the concept of using different formats other than text. They were supportive of midwives who were not great writers, so in principle were happy with the idea of using other media to record reflections etc. The reviewers asked to see my ePortfolio but only gave me a couple of minutes to show them a page or two. Then they reverted to my paper portfolio which I had taken with me to be on the 'safe' side.

Lack of understanding
I thought they'd be concerned about issues of privacy but they didn't mention at all as a barrier to using an ePortfolio. They were interested in what I had to say, but didn't really appreciate the nuances of blogging - they didn't realize that I use my blog for ongoing reflection. To my mind that is far more beneficial than madly writing at the last minute just before a Review, which is what so many midwives do. The reviewers didn't really understand why I had included the comments to my various blog posts ...that the comments were also from non-midwives. But they could see how open discussion on my blog supports me and challenges my thinking further.

Things to think about
I was disappointed that the reviewers had not looked at my ePortfolio even though I had sent them the link several weeks before hand. To be fair to the reviewers, I think their lack of engagement was more because of their inexperience of online communication rather than a desire to block this particular media.

To my mind, an ePortfolio is about sharing and feedback, as well as providing the freedom to present material in media other than text. For ePortfolios to become an accepted practice in midwifery, in New Zealand, there needs to be a significant shift in knowledge and attitudes about online communication.

The future?
I do believe ePortfolios will be introduced to New Zealand midwives in the next few years. I think education will lead this as the five schools of midwifery go more and more in blended and online learning. However, until midwives engage more with each other online (developing their own personal learning environments), I cannot see the ePortfolio being much more than repository for certificates.

I'd be very interested to hear what you think.

Further reading
Graham Attwell. 14th March 2010. Rethinking ePortfolios.

Image: 'Christmas Pudding' jonno259

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Biting off more than I can chew this weekend?

This weekend I am giving two presentations at the Virtual Worlds – Best Practices in Education conference in Second Life.

Virtual birth unit
The first presentation is called
Integrating Second Life into Blended Undergraduate Midwifery Education. In it I will talk about the development of the virtual birth unit. The presentation will be at Sunday 14th March 9am (NZ time) at VWBPE EAST 1 in Second Life.

Health communication
For the second presentation I will be part of a health panel that will be discussing Virtual World Education for Healthcare Communication. I will be focusing on how I see the virtual birth unit developing in the future in terms of international collaborative and cooperative midwifery education. This round table will be held at 1pm Sunday 14th March 4pm (NZ time) at VWBPE WEST1.

Feeling very nervous
My aim for going to the conference is to continue to broadcast the work being done in the birth unit and generate interest in collaboration. I have to say that I am feeling extremely nervous and wondering if I have bitten off more than I can chew. I went to a session the other day about how to be a speaker and was highly intimidated about all the technical talk. I am very mindful that I am still a beginner in Second Life compared to many of the people who will be going to the conference. But I guess I can only do what I can do, and will keep things very simple to encourage interaction. Wish me luck!!

Going to the conference
If you'd like to go to the conference but you are not sure where to go, you are welcome to come along with me - just be aware that I'll focused on my presentations to be much or any help with how to use Second Life.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tomorrow's the big day out for my ePortfolio

Tomorrow I have my Midwifery Standards Review which is the audit of my midwifery practice by a midwife and consumer. Midwives in New Zealand are reviewed every two years as part of the requirements for being a practicing midwife. I have been preparing for this for some weeks, reflecting on my practice in this blog and gathering evidence for my ePortfolio.

Initial reactions
When I first informed the Review committee a couple of weeks ago that I was presenting my work in my ePortfolio, the reaction was not favorable. There was some confusion about what the reviewers had to do to access it, and there was concerns about the time it would take to read it. So I was asked to submit a paper version. I did this by printing off the ePortfolio website.

Taking my ePortfolio to my Review tomorrow
In the meantime I have been asked to take my ePortfolio to my Review tomorrow so the committee can have a look at it. This is a tad problematic because there is no Internet connection at the Review venue, so I have gone out and spent $100 on a mobile pre-paid Internet connection stick - hopefully that will do trick.

I have realized that I haven't quite got around to attaching all my paper certificates and evidence as pdfs, so I'll need to catch up on that over the next wee while.

Letting you know how I get on
I think this will be a challenge for the reviewers - I am 99.9% sure this is the first time they have come across an ePortfolio. It will be very interesting to hear what they think about it - I'll let you know.

In the meantime, I'd like to thank my Twitter network for all their encouragement and advice when I was thinking that the whole concept of an ePortfolio needed to go in the "too-hard" basket.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Teaching midwifery students about abdominal palpation

I have just come across a great teaching resource for teaching midwifery (nursing and medical) students about abdominal palpation, thanks to my colleague Rae Hickey.

This resource has been developed by the School of Nursing and Academic Division of Midwifery at the University of Nottingham. The resource walks you through how to carry out an abdominal palpation, justification, auscultation (listening to the baby's heart), and research that supports this particular procedure. Click here to go to the resource.

Do you know of any other online resources that can be used to educate midwifery students?

Image: My pregnant wife davhor's photostream

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Girlfriends, Twitter and Tom Jones

I am a bit late with this news, but needless to say, I had a great time last week at the Tom Jones concert in Dunedin.'ll all be glad to hear that I kept my knickers on although I cannot say the same for some other lusty ladies in the audience.

What made the evening so special to me was that @smilingpamela and @cherylalice came all the way down from Blenheim to join me. Pamela and Alice are friends that I have made via Twitter, and this was the first time that I had met Pamela, and Pamela had met Alice in person.

What was so striking was that even though we had not met, we all got on like a house on fire and had a fabulous evening.

I don't know what it is about Twitter, but it has enabled me to build the most incredible relationships with people in a way that does not happen with other online, social media tools. I might spend a lot of time on Twitter, but to my mind these friendships make it very worthwhile.